For more than four decades, Lower East Side New Yorkers have been trusting their shoes to the hands of a Greek legend. Minas Polychronakis. The Greek-American cobbler passed on Wednesday, at the age of 76. Born in Heraklion, Crete, Minas trained as a shoemaker alongside his father, before migrating to the US in 1969, where he practiced his trade.
He managed to set up his own business, Minas Shoe Repairs, in 1977, becoming one of the first tenants of the newly built World Trade Center; his shop was an instant success, leading him to triple his staff within the first few days of operation.
A survivor of the 9/11 attacks that devastated the Twin Towers, Polychronakis had been struggling to make ends meet since. The two branches he had set up in other parts of Manhattan had never been as successful as his ‘flagship’ shop and the $1,000 weekly payment he had been getting from the government as a subsidy, was not enough to support his family. He managed to turn the situation in 2003, when he set up shop on Wall Street, not far from his original location, and was hoping to manage to return to One World Trade Center.
A prominent member of New York’s Greek-American community, Polychronakis served as chair of the Minos Cretan Association of Astoria. He is survived by his wife, Maria, children- Nikolaos, Manolis, Asimenia, and Minas Jr., his brothers in Crete, Michalis Polychronakis, Antonios Polychronakis, Aleko Polychronakis, and Leonidas Polychronakis, and other relatives in Greece. His funeral service will be held on Saturday at the Saint Catherine and Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Astoria.